The Wolf Man

Year: 1941
Studio: Universal
Director: George Waggner
Producer: George Waggner
Writer: Curt Sidomak
Cast: Lon Chaney Jr, Claude Rains, Ralph Bellamy, Bela Lugosi

Sloppily remade in 2010, this film is a smaller, more contained beast (get it?) than you remember. Less a monster movie than an investigation on how a man deals with the knowledge that he's a killer, there's a lot of old-style sets, acting styles and staging to dismiss to reach the core of the story. And just like I found with Bride of Frankenstein, some won't find it worth doing so, happy merely to laugh at the cardboard sets (and acting).

You know everything there is to know about the mythology after a half century of iconic movies about it, and the story is more or less the struggle of the hero Lawrence Talbot (Chaney) to understand and stop what afflict him before he kills those closest to him, including his father (Rains) and love interest Gwen.

It's also less about the science of infections and disease than it is about magical gypsy curses, particularly in the device where Lawrence sees a mystical symbol in the palm of his next victim.

And despite being done better since (An American Werewolf in London remains the best wolf man movie ever made), it's worth seeing where the cinema movement for this iconic monster really arrived.

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